[Source: Yuri Artibise] — Downtown Phoenix will be home to Phoenix’s inaugural Jane’s Walk on May 2, 2009. The walk will take place between 10 am and noon on May 2, 2009. It will start and end at Portland Park at N 1st Ave. and W. Portland St. (next to the Roosevelt light rail station). This free walking tour is part of an annual event to commemorate the birthday of renown urban activist Jane Jacobs who died in 2006. Jane’s Walk is a “street-level celebration” of Jacobs’ legacy and ideas that combines the simple act of walking with personal observations, urban history, and local lore as a means of knitting people together into strong and resourceful communities through bottom-up approaches and neighborhood involvement.
Jane Jacobs was an urbanist and activist whose writings championed a fresh, community-based approach to city building. She had no formal training as a planner, yet wrote what many consider to be the ‘bible’ of urban planning. Her 1961 treatise, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, introduced groundbreaking ideas about how cities function, evolve and fail that are now common sense to generations of architects, planners, politicians, and activists. Jacobs was a champion the interests and knowledge of local residents and pedestrians over a centralized, car-centered approach to planning. She also promoted the refurbishing old buildings instead of tearing them down and building new ones, and demonstrated the desirability of increasing the density of cities instead of sprawling endlessly outward.
Cities across the U.S., Canada, and India will host Jane’s Walks on the first weekend in May. This is the third consecutive year for Jane’ Walks in North America. So far, Jane’s Walks have occurred in Toronto and New York in 2007 and in Ottawa, Calgary, Winnipeg, Vancouver and Salt Lake City in 2008. This year, the walks have exploded to 41 cities, including 2 in India. Several cities are host to multiple walks.
You don’t have to be familiar with Jane Jacobs’ work to participate. The walks are meant to be fun and participatory–everyone’s got a story and they’re usually keen to share it. Whether you’re a local activist, resident, business owner, politician, preservationist or a simply a citizen who loves your community, participating in Jane’s Walk Phoenix is a great way to celebrate the reemergence of downtown Phoenix as a vital urban hub and honor the legacy of Jane Jacobs.
Jane’s Walk USA is being managed by the Center for the Living City, a non-profit organization operating out of The University of Utah’s Department of City & Metropolitan Planning. The Center for the Living City is linked in spirit and purpose with their sister organization, The Centre for City Ecology in Toronto.